What’s that smell, you ask, as you cuddle your dog or cat. Chances are, it might be their bad breath, and that’s no small thing! It may seem like bad breath in pets goes with the territory of being a pet owner, but in reality, it’s a sign of oral health problems.

Pet dental care is one of the cornerstones of preventive pet care. Keeping your pet’s mouth clean and healthy can prevent bad breath, keep them pain-free, and protect their teeth, gums, and even internal organs from inflammation and infection.

What Is Pet Dental Disease?

Pet dental disease is common, but it is also preventable. It is estimated that 85% of pets over the age of 4 have some form of periodontal disease. The problem starts when plaque builds up on the teeth and gum line, causing inflammation called gingivitis.

If dental disease goes untreated, bacteria then accumulates and goes below the gum line. This can result in bleeding gums, infected pockets under the gums, loose or broken teeth, and an increased chance of heart, kidney and liver disease.

Luckily, a home dental care plan and annual professional cleanings can prevent these problems.

Home Dental Care

Pet dental care can begin at home with a daily tooth brushing routine. Before you cringe or roll your eyes, hear us out! Brushing your pet’s teeth is easier that you think. We can show you some different tips and techniques in our office during your next visit.

You can start by simply lifting the lip of your pet to check their teeth at home. In a calm, quiet environment, use your finger to gently lift one side of the lip away from the teeth, and take a peek at the gums and teeth. Any sign of swollen or bleeding gums, or tartar on their teeth, is a signal that they should be seen by a veterinarian right away.

The Importance of Professional Dental Care

At Bayside, we recommend that pets over the age of 3 have a dental exam as a part of their preventive care program. In our office, our veterinarian will look into your pet’s mouth, evaluate their overall health, and grade their teeth for what level of dental disease is seen, if any. A professional dental cleaning under anesthesia may then be recommended.

During this procedure, all the mouth structures will be examined, including the teeth and gums, and any disease noted. Digital dental x-rays will be taken to evaluate the parts of the tooth that we cannot see with the naked eye, including the root and the bone beneath. Your pet’s teeth will be thoroughly cleaned above and below the gum line, and any diseased teeth beyond repair will be removed, with your permission. Finally, your pet’s teeth will be polished to prevent plaque and tartar in the future.

Anesthesia is a common fear for pet owners, but with recent advances, anesthesia is safer than ever. With a highly trained veterinary technician team to monitor your pet’s safety, safer anesthetic agents, and the most sophisticated monitoring equipment, the benefits of a professional dental cleaning far outweigh the risks.

Once your pet has had their dental cleaning, we’ll help you make sure they stay on the path to dental health at home. Again, brushing is key. There are also dental chews, diets, and water additives that may be helpful for your pet. Since every pet is an individual, our veterinarians will talk with you and decide together what makes the most sense for ongoing health.

At Bayside Animal Hospital, we’re ready and willing to be your resource for a great home care program, as well as help with safe and effective dental exams and cleanings for your pet. Give us a call with any questions and to schedule your pet’s dental exam.